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Iowa, Arizona State to meet in El Paso’s Sun Bowl

December 8, 1997

EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ Organizers hope Iowa’s enthusiastic fans combined with Arizona State’s proximity to El Paso produce a memorable Sun Bowl.

``We’ve had tons of phone calls just this afternoon for tickets. One guy called in from Arizona and bought $800 worth of tickets _ and he’s an Iowa fan,″ selection committee chairman John Folmer said Sunday.

The Sun Devils play in Tempe, about a six-hour drive from El Paso. And when Iowa drubbed No. 20 Washington 38-18 in the 1995 Sun Bowl, the Hawkeyes had sold about 6,500 tickets _ nearly three times more than what most teams accomplish.

Last year, about 42,000 attended the match between Stanford and Michigan State. The nation’s second-oldest bowl is estimated by boosters to bring about $9.2 million a year into the area.

The Sun Bowl has had its financial difficulties. It went without a title sponsor after John Hancock Financial Services, a Boston-based insurance company pulled out in 1993. In March 1995, Minneapolis-based Norwest agreed to sponsor the game.

The bowl received some long-term security this fall when El Paso voters decided to levy a five percent per day tax on rental cars, which could raise an estimated $1.5 million starting with next year’s game.

Each school is required to buy 8,000 tickets of the nearly 52,000 available.

Iowa coach Hayden Fry said the players chose the Sun Bowl over the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

``We listened to everyone, had quite a few bowls contact us, but by contract we were tied up with the Sun Bowl if everything fell into place the way it did,″ Fry said. ``But our players always make the decision on a bowl game, unless we’re obligated to go to the Rose Bowl. They voted, and they all voted to go to the Sun Bowl.″

Arizona State has been to one bowl game under Bruce Snyder _ last year’s 20-17 Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State. But Snyder believes this season’s attendance figures may signal how strong their fan turnout will be for the Sun Bowl.

``I can just say this, this is our home crowd I’m judging this by,″ he said. ``Last year we went 11-0 and set a record attendance mark and yet this year, we broke that record.

``Arizona State fans like what we’re doing, they like what we have. My take is that we’re going to travel very well, bring a lot of enthusiastic fans, and that there will be a lot of maroon and gold in El Paso.″

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